It is now no secret that India’s youth are firmly in love with K-Pop, but it didn’t happen in a day, it was building up.

Over the last year or so, the influence of K-Pop music has been so widespread in India that Gen Z are hooked on to it 24 hours, quite literally. Late in May, the euphoria even led a small-town 18-yr-old girl, Shreya Lenka from Odisha to became India’s first K-pop star when she aced the worldwide audition conducted by DR Music. In doing so, the music sensation got inducted as a band member of the popular K-Pop girl band, Blackswan. It is now no secret that India’s youth are firmly in love with K-pop. But this journey didn’t start in 2022. It was building up.

BTS, also known as Bangton Boys, are a rage among the youth.K-Pop is a popular form of music originating from South Korea.

Back in 2021 itself, something incredible had struck India’s music lovers. Popular K-Pop band Bangtan Boys (BTS) enjoyed a staggering 1.52 billion YouTube viewership last year in India alone and also topped Twitter India’s music trends. And when BTS launched Dynamite, they had 8 million Indian fans liking the video within 24 hrs of launch. The phenomenal rise also took them to the dizzying heights of the cover of TIME magazine as Next Generation Leaders. So, what makes K-pop a rage, a cult, a religion for Gen Z? We explore.


Young India is craving to have role models who represent their own slice of life. They are not looking at someone who is flawless. They want someone human. Someone who is not afraid to make mistakes. Someone who gets up and gets going every time he falls. “They are extremely relatable”, says Viha Bhosekar, a promising young vocalist from Bangalore. “We the fans have grown up on similar timelines as our idols. TXT for instance transitioned from stories about growing up as teenagers to more mature content on falling in love in their early 20s”. She proudly claims, “I love it (K-Pop) to the point of crying!”


That’s something Gen Z is absolutely crazy about. The things you do when you do nothing at all. Pandemic has created a sense of loneliness that needs relief in the form of simple silly nothings. The K-Pop bands spend their free time hanging out with each other at resorts and theme parks having innocent fun at the cost of each other. Their offscreen personalities complement their onscreen presence keeping them real. And this is what the ARMY can’t get enough of. (ARMY is the official name of BTS fans and stands for Adorable Representative MC for Youth.)

Universe of its own

The K-Pop albums teleport the viewer into a parallel universe of its own. The swanky set designs and the vibrant colour schemes appeal to Gen Z and ensures escapism from monotony. Space and Sci-Fi themes represent the surge of AI and Techno concepts co-existing with Barbie kind of Wonderland.


K-Pop is as much about dancing as it is about music. The choreography is often complex and of gigantic proportions. The K-Pop idols practice for 8-9 hrs daily for weeks together to perfect a single routine. And this is evident in their onstage performance which often transports the fans into a larger-than-life experience. NCT 127’s Kick It featured martial arts inspired choreography with a flying kick from a rapper, making it no less than superhero level of swag. Deveshi Kumar, the chirpy ten-yr-old from Ranchi is obsessed with K-pop, especially the girl band Blackpink. “I wish there was a Junior K-Pop Idol. I would love to be one”, says the little girl who raves about their breath-taking choreography.


Young India along with the rest of the world has been eyeing the coolness in the fashion quotient of K-Pop idols. The K-Pop boys do not shy away from make-up and this makes them uber cool and confident. Their colourful attire and the mid-song costume change is quite a hype amongst the fans. Kim Seok-jin, one of the BTS idols, introduces himself as Worldwide Handsome and he is an instant hit for all reasons fashion. Indie singer and performer Sangeetha Rajeev echoes the sentiment. “We grew up falling in love with the young and handsome Backstreet Boys and suddenly there was a void. That’s where BTS seized the scene. Young, Good looking and with a Great sense of fashion!” she exclaims.

Fashion experts are suggesting that the 10-step skin care routine is popular amongst both boys and girls who wish to achieve flawless skin by emulating the beauty routine of their K-Pop idols. Ironically, K-Pop had a quiet, yet effective role in boosting the Korean beauty and personal grooming industry. That industry is now christened as K-beauty and is expected to grow to USD 20 billion by 2026 globally.


The short 5-minute speech that BTS delivered at the United Nations will reveal the powerful message that K-Pop stands for. BTS partnered with UNICEF for its End Violence Program to Protect Children and launched the campaign ‘Love Myself’. The leader of BTS, Kim Nam-joon spoke on how True Love begins with Loving Oneself and asked his ARMY to stand up for themselves and create their own unique identity.

“Today, I am who I am with all my faults and my mistakes. Tomorrow, I might be a tiny bit wiser, and that’ll be me too. I have come to love myself for who I am, for who I was, and for who I hope to become,” exclaimed Kim Nam-joon.


For a generation that is often blamed for being irresponsible, borderline lazy and entitled, the Gen Z India looks up at their K-Pop idols for hearing out and acknowledging their pains and insecurities. There is ambition hidden deep down in their hearts and K-Pop is able to discover their talent and true identity amidst the complexity of adolescence and growing up. Like the lyrics of the popular BTS hit Dynamite goes, the Gen Z echoes the spirit that sings “I’m diamond. You know I glow up!”

Back in 2018, President Ramnath Kovind, in a meeting with his Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-In, had stressed on the strong cultural heritage India and Korea share. Years later, that heritage has only strengthened, thanks to one of the most beautiful forms of art, music. As President Kovind himself said, “From Gangnam Style to Korea’s band ‘BTS’, our youth are captivated by the tunes of these iconic pop groups.” Indeed they are.

Vaishnavi H.S. is an entertainment industry analyst who has worked in leadership roles in many leading television and radio channels.